tonight on "nightline," extreme weather. torrential rains, flooded streets, dumping snow, freezing cold. the weather has gone wild all around the world, and we meet the man who says he knows why. plus, phone wars. look out, iphone. google goes off the mobile phone market, and we get the first ever look inside their laboratories. and, the odd couple. bing and bowie. in a classic 1977 christmas special that's finding a whole new look. ♪ our finest gifts we bring >> and that's a "sign of the
times." >> announcer: from the global resources of abc news, with terry moran, cynthia mcfadden and bill weir in new york city, this is "nightline," december 22nd, 2010. >> good evening, i'm cynthia mcfadden. we begin tonight with the weather. winter has brought the kind of storms that interrupt and even endanger lives, with days of rain and flooding in the southwest, record snowfall in the north, and conditions harsh enough overseas to shut major transportation hubs. this, after a summer of even more dangerous waves of heat and water. tonight, dan harris talks with a forecaster who saw it all coming, and who has less than promising news for what's coming next. >> reporter: it's hard not to be impressed when you see entire houses being swept away by flood waters in the west. part of the same storm that, tonight, is creating road
closures, evacuations and wild spread fear of mud slide. meanwhile, the madness continues over in europe, where the snow and freezing temperatures that paralyze major cities is only now starting to relent. there is one person who is happy about all of this, though. >> i'm extremely pleased that it's very cold and it's very cold in europe as well. >> reporter: this rather odd-looking man is pierce corbin, who actually predicted this nasty weather, which the british government failed to do. >> we predicted that this winter in britain and europe would be the coldest for 100 years. >> reporter: corbin's methods are, to say the least, unorthodox. he forecasts based on the magnetic connection between the sun and the earth. though many people say his correct forecasts are just a fluke, he remains supremely confident, and now says the weather will only get worse and very soon.
>> in the coming period in the new year, we are expecting blizzards in europe and the eastern parts of england. we are expecting blizzards in the northeast usa. >> reporter: maybe he's right, maybe he's not. either way, we are certainly coming to an end of a year of crazy and often lethal weather. most notably, that unprecedented heat wave over in russia and that huge and lethal episode of flooding in pakistan. and, of course, every time we have a year like this, people always ask the same question -- this has been a, by any stretch, pretty crazy year in terms of weather. is there anything in what you see this year that makes you think that we're seeing climate change at work? >> you can never attribute the cause of individual weather events to a long-term trend like the global warming trend brought about by the buildup of the greenhouse gases. you can see that certain types of weather are made more likely by the buildup. >> reporter: that's michael
oppenheimer, who says climate change is like loading the dice or tilting a pinball machine. making it more likely that we'll have heat waves, intense rainstorms and higher sea levels. it's not a pretty picture. >> over the long-term, it's not. and if we don't act to stem the emissions of the gases, eventually, it gets disastrous because earth simply keeping warming. >> reporter: it figmight feel c outside of your house tonight, but 2010 may turn out to be the hottest year on record. and in fact, the last decade was definitely the hottest on record. despite all that come peopling evidence, climate scientists say they now feel more embattled than ever. and some of their biggest opponents, they say, are politicians on the right. in one congressional hearing, a congressman argued that god said earth will stay safe for m
mankind. and here's what john boehner told george stephanopoulos. >> george, the idea that carbon dioxide is a car sin know jen, that it's harmful to our environment is almost comical. >> reporter: what is your reaction? >> well, no one is asserting that it's a car sin joe jen. it could be classified as an air pollutant. this is nonsense it's politically motivated and completely detached from the scientific reality. >> reporter: meanwhile, the fbi tells us it has seen a spike in threatening e-mails to climate scientists, and a why supremacist website rain pictures of scientists with the word "jew" next to them. oppenheimer says this interview will get angry e-mails. >> i read out some of my e-mails and people were astonished. some people have gotten death threats. >> reporter: what types of
things have people called you? >> you can't use the more amusing ones on family television. >> reporter: now climate scientists, including professor oppenheimer are fighting back, forming rapid response teams to counter what they describe as a vast disinformation campaign. >> there's no question that going back almost 20 years that certain segments of industry got together and started funding disinformation campaigns, just like the tobacco industry did with smoking, in order to create doubt in the public's mind that the science was firm enough on global warming to actually act on it. but this is a device we've seen before. >> reporter: and it worked for a little while. >> it did. it delayed action. we see the same thing here. >> reporter: their foe, they say, is a well-funded campaign to confuse. led by people like dr. friend singer, a controversial scientific skeptic with whom i conducted this combative interview several years ago, which was heavily criteria sized
by many in the skeptics community. there are so many scientists who disagree with what you're saying, nasa, noaa, the national academy of sciences, the american geophysical union. we're talking about scientists all over the globe. >> what can i say? they're wrong. >> reporter: we should say that pierce corbin, that guy who claimed to have predicted europe's current weather woes, he, too, is a climate skeptic. >> there are certain people in the global warming cult, and that's what it is, it's a religious cult, they believe that everything that happens is caused by global warming. look, it's sheer magnus. >> reporter: corbin is predicting a mini ice age in the coming years. however, the vast majority of climate scientists disagree and say, if you like this year's extremely deadly weather, you'll likely get much more if the world doesn't act very quickly. for "nightline" this is dan harris in new york.
>> the fight over weather, hoping your holidays are free of weather woes. when we come back, a first-ever look inside the laboratory where google is developing the mobile phone of the future. /ç/ç/ç/ç/ç/ç/ç/ç/ç/ç/ç/ç/ç/ç/ç/ç i can't believe i used to swing over those rocks... took some foolish risks as a teenager. but i was still taking a foolish risk with my cholesterol. anyone with high cholesterol may be at increased risk of heart attack.
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big, which is why one of the biggest names in technology, google, is jumping into the mobile market with both feet. well, tonight, we get a look inside the company's effort to raisebar for smartphone technology. here's neal karlinsky. >> prepare to turn right. >> reporter: in case you hadn't noticed, at some point in the last few years, a phone stopped being just a phone. if you believe the hype, getting an iphone, an android phone or a windows phone, can be a life changing experience. >> where is the iphone four? >> reporter: the internet is filled with spoochs about the competition, and love for all things iphone. >> if it's not an iphone, why would i want it? >> nothing can compare to the iphone, the guys over at the apple store assured me of this. >> reporter: and if you think the battle for cool between the mac and pc guy is intense -- >> future pc. have they figured out how to make us stable? >> future pc just froze. >> reporter: you're missing the fight for the future sitting
right in your hand. the people that put the google in google see those long lines outside the apple store for a new iphone and want a piece of the action. what's google doing in the phone business? >> we're in the phone business, i'd like to say that we are in the portable internet business. >> reporter: john is one of the heads of google's android unit. not that they like to put it this way, but android is google's answer to the iphone. and our cameras were the first to be allowed inside android headquarters in silicon valley, where every version of the google phone made worldwide is proudly on display. so, this is the nexus s. the latest and greatest android device. i'm excited about this device, yes. >> reporter: can i touch your phone? >> you can touch my phone any time. >> reporter: it's no joke to google. they may differ with their neighbors from apple on some things, but on this they agree. >> note to self, brush teeth before abc interview.
>> reporter: the future is mobile. does google have to be in mobile? is it do or die? >> it's cheap computing power. it's portable, personal. it comes very natural. we want to make sure that the google services are available on these devices. i think that the google board really signaled very early that mobile will be very important and we should bet on this. >> reporter: the iphone jooutse google, but the numbers show google gaining. it is important because the phone is steadily becoming the single most important device a person carries. when you head out to the store, for example, what do you bring? your keys, a wallet or purse, cash and credit cards, maybe a shopping list, and, of course, your cell phone. soon, you won't need any of it, except the phone, which will swipe across products to deduct from your bank account, even act as a car key. in a lab in santa monica, california, for an application
called google goggles, they're showing us how the phone's camera can identify products just by looking at them. hartman created goggles. among its many tickricks, it ca trabs late a menu written in german. >> in german, it would have said this, in english, it trans lapts to salad of beetroot and grated cheese. >> reporter: we tried it out at this museum in los angeles, where the phone knows practically every piece of art imaginable, just by sight. >> the goggles recognized it as a van gogh. >> reporter: the stakes are extremely high, because the phone and all the information it provides, not to you, but about you, are the future of commerce. >> this is a major battleground for the future of computer. ing are kara swisher is the executive director of the influential blog "all things digital." >> a lot of money is being put into commerce, which is hugely important, because location gives you a lot of information
of where you are and what you're doing. >> reporter: some analysts see one piece of good news for google in apple's history. by putting android on as many different kinds of mobile phones as possible, google is taking a page from microsoft's windows, back in the '90s, which dominated appleby getting on many different computers. while apple, back then, just like the iphone today, stuck with its own system, run only by its own device. >> i mean, google's not stupid to want to be on as many devices as possible. people like choice. walk into a supermarket, there's 400 times of cereal of the same time. apple is making your bet that this is what you want. android is making the opposite. >> reporter: inherent of that bet is the notion that people will continue feel comfortable sharing so much of their personal information. between its phones, g-mail and searches, google now have the potential to know where you are at all times, who your friends are, what you're buying and more. >> well, that's the plan of the
borg. that's what we call it fondly here, the borg. they're trying to suck up as much information as possible. they know what you're searching on and they know what you're doing next, they know where you are moving next. and so there's a potential for abuse and that's what people are worried about. >> so, any location data that google is looking at is totally anonmized and temporal. you can sit here and tell me that but people -- >> we would be betting our future. so, the risk for google to misuse or even misrepresent what we're doing would be much larger than what a potential upside would be. there is too much risk. >> reporter: to give you perspective on how important getting android right is to google, consider this. it is essentially given away free to mobile phone makers just to get it out there and bring google to your pocket. how much pressure is there on someone like you here, mobile? i mean, google has to be paying
big, big time in mobile. >> i think we have -- we are getting a lot of attention and focus. it's both positive and negative. there's a lot of pressure, obviously. people have very high expectations. >> reporter: after all, a phone is no longer just for making calls. >> navigate to nearest grocery store. >> reporter: and at google, search is not enough. i'm neal karlinsky for "nightline" in mountainview, california. >> talk about smartphone. google recently announced that 300,000 droid phones are being activated every day. the smartphone battle continues. up next, the little drummer boy. a 1970s christmas classic that's getting, well, a whole new sound. /ç/ç/ç/ç/ç/ç/ç/ç/ç/ç/ç/ç/ç/ç/ç/ç ♪ you're the one ♪ who's born to care this life was protected... ♪ seems you've always been right there ♪ this life was saved...
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>> announcer: "nightline" continues from new york city with cynthia mcfadden. >> 35 years after bing crosby's recording of "white house christmas," crosby teamed up with a surprising partner, pop star david bowie. the two sang "little drummer boy" and the version became a surprise hit. and now that 1977 due wet has inspired two popular tributes. and for david wright, that's a "sign of the times." >> reporter: it's a ghost of christmas past that continues to haunt us. >> hello. you the new butler? >> it's been a long time since i've been the new anything. >> reporter: a scene from a 1977
bing crosby christmas special featuring david bowie. back then, bowie, barely 30, was something of a musical spans oddity. ♪ is there life on mars >> reporter: a gender-bending glam rocker who seemed to be from a different planet. ♪ chrwhite christmas ♪ >> reporter: at least a different planet from mr. white christmas himself, then age 74. it's probably the oddest pairing since elvis turned up to show richard nixon. >> he didn't sing. >> reporter: no but david bowie did. ♪ come they told me >> reporter: a duet with bing of "the little drummer boy." that duet became such an odd and enduring icon of christmas that this year -- >> why, it's jason seigle, the actor. >> reporter: not only is there an animated version from jack
black and jason seigle -- ♪ our finest gifts we bring >> reporter: there's a parody by will ferrell and john c. riley. >> are you is new butler? >> it's been a long time. >> reporter: a short by short recreation of the original, right down to bing's baby blue cardigan. ♪ >> reporter: we tracked down the composures from the 1977 crosby special and reunited them at the hollywood musician's institute. they told us the original duet almost didn't happen. >> david walked in, said, god, i hate that song. >> can we do something else? >> reporter: so, what did you do? >> we came up strong. >> reporter: knowing it was too late to do a different song, the composures decided to improve the original. >> we decided the best way to do it was to write a counter
melody, leave "the little drummer boy" alone. don't touch that. and we would write a counter melody. and we decided to call it "peace on earth," which is "greensleeves." ♪ >> harmonically -- it's a melody that rides over the -- ♪ >> reporter: how long did that take to bang out? >> about 20 minutes. it was beat the clock. >> took it up to bowie, he said, oh, i love it. ♪ peace on earth ♪ can it be ♪ years from now ♪ perhaps we'll see >> when it came to actually do the number, i think we did it in one take. ♪ a newborn king to see >> reporter: the song was recorded september 11th, 1977, a month later, bing crosby was dead. this christmas special, broadcast posthumously turned
out to be bing's last. i assume you have seen the will ferrell -- what do you think? >> up to the last minute, it's terrific. >> yeah, what can you say? >> reporter: in the last minute of the funny or diver shun, there is a comic twist. >> all right, bobby. merry christmas. >> it's bowie. it's david [ bleep ] bowie. >> and it's bing [ bleep ] crosby, pal. >> the thing that i love about it is, they destroy their whole image of peace on earth. >> reporter: so, let's hear -- ♪ peace on earth ♪ can it be ♪ years from now >> reporter: "peace on erlt." a tune born of unusual circumstances, now, in its own way, a christmas classic. ♪
i'm david wright for "nightline" in hollywood. ♪ can it be >> ah, charming story. pick your favorite, i like the original. when we come back, no more washington grid lock? well, that's the subject of tonight's closing argument. but first, jimmy kimmel with what's coming up next. jimmy? >> jimmy: tonight, dan aykroyd, brian austin green, music from brad, and donald trump's hair comes to life. it's a christmas miracle. "jimmy kimmel live" is next.